Home Home Home Home Home Home Home
CakeSpy

Featured:

 

How a rainbow cake is really made
Unicorn Love: the Eating Disorder Recovery Blog

 

 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too! 

CakeSpy Online Retail!

 

Archives
Gallery

Fantastic appliance for cake making on DHgate.com

everyrecipe.co.nz

Craftsy Writer

Entries in holidays (51)

Tuesday
May062008

(s)Mothered: Cakespy's Ideas for the Overbearing Mom this Mother's Day

Empty Nester Cupcakes
Before anything else, we're going to admit that at Cakespy, we're all total brats about Mother's Day. While we like the idea of celebrating dear mom, something about the whole Laura-Ashley-and-tea-party image of the holiday just doesn't sit right with us. Because really, doesn't that make grand assumptions about mom--that she's a meek little lady who just wants some tea and lace? What about those overbearing, in your face, powerhouse moms? The controlling, sometimes calculating ones, who call you four times a day? Certainly something else is in order for those moms. 

And so, it's these moms that we choose to celebrate this Mother's Day: following are just a few ideas about how to mom how you really feel about her this year, with some subliminal messages that are sweet nonetheless:

Idea 1: Empty Nester Cupcakes
Frosting the CupcakeEmpty Nest Syndrome Cupcakes

Made for the mom who just can't let go, how about Empty Nester Cupcakes? These cupcakes have a mini "nest" --we made ours out of crumbled up Shredded Mini Wheats-- with "eggs" -- ours are jelly beans--sitting just outside. Why outside? Well, sometimes it's just time to move on. Mom still having trouble with you having, you know, your own life? Well, this is the perfect way to say "hey mom, I'm gone and I'm never comin' back!".

Idea 2: (s)Mother's Day Cake
(S)Mother's Day Cake(S)Mothers Day Cake
This one's perfect for the overbearing mom who clearly just wants to take credit for everything you do, or who likes to suck the joy out of your achievements. Stage moms, soccer moms, moms who steal your boyfriend--we think you know what we mean. This cake actually has a cupcake buried within, so that the bigger layer cake completely obliterates the cupcake. However, once it's cut into, there's your subliminal message: "Hey ma, you've officially smothered me! Thanks a lot!". A bit heady, sure, but you like feeling smart and in the know, don't you?

How we did it: Make a cake (any type you choose, really); if it is a shallow pan, make it a two layer cake so that its height matches that of a frosted cupcake (in fact, you can use the leftover batter, if any, to make the cupcakes--that's what we did). Once the cake has cooled, if two layers, attach them with a dollop of frosting, but do not frost the top. Scoop out a ball from the center, and insert the frosted cupcake; the height should be slightly lower or even with the height of the cake. Frost just as you regularly would, making sure to cover the cupcake so that the frosting doesn't betray the secret within. Garnish to cover up any imperfections. Serve, and enjoy the confused faces as you get a massive amount of joy at your naughty little secret. 

Idea 3: No Cake

Note to ma--IOU this mothers day
Show your true colors this Mothers Day with an IOU--you know, something to the tune of "Sorry ma, meant to make you a cake, but I was out all night and stayed with that person I casually date--you know, the one you so clearly disapprove of. I owe you one! Thanks again for, you know, giving birth to me and everything"

Of course, if you must be kind to mom, here are some ideas that we've seen around:

 

Zabar's is offering a 7" Mother's Day Red Velvet Rose Cake, which is topped with cream cheese icing and filling surrounded with red cake crumbs and a cute little red rose topper. And, they'll ship it anywhere in the US--it Requires 2-day shipping, but wouldn't most things at this point, procrastinator? Available at zabar.com.

Dangerous Pies, whose wares we drooled about on Bmoresweet, is now shipping pies within the US--depending on which side you're on in the pie vs. cake revolution, this might be a nice choice for mom. Our vote goes for the Custard Pie--the owner refers to it as a "White Trash Crème Brûlée "--a midwestern comfort food on crack, if you will? We like the thought of that.

Of course, if you're in the DC area, you may be intrigued by the prospect of these "buttercream blossoms" we read about on DailyCandy--Maryland-based Couture Cupcakes is offering cupcakes formed into little "bouquets"--cute as anything, and far sweeter than flowers, in our opinion. Find them at 301-926-7333 or couture-cupcakes.com. 



Scary White Girl Mini Crocheted Cupcakes: Supercute crocheted cupcakes that can be used as a pincushion or voodoo doll? Perfect. These über-affordable ones ($5 each for a crocheted cupcake a little larger than the size of a real-life one) are available at scarywhitegirl.etsy.com.
And, you know, if you were super-nice, you could probably still get a custom art piece by Head Spy Jessie for mom too...
Babymamma


 

Sunday
Mar232008

Hoppy Easter: Cakespy's Suggestions for Utilizing Easter Candy Leftovers

Peeps S'mores
Easter Day. A time for family, celebration, tradition...and candy. Oh, so much pastel candy.

But if you're anything like us, by noon the eggs have all been hunted, easter baskets have been doled out, and most of the good stuff (like the Cadbury Creme Eggs) is long gone. This is the moment of truth--is it time to break the ears off of that pristine chocolate bunny? Or should you bide your time by nibbling on the filler candy (you know, the Peeps, the jellybeans, those strange Brach's treats--all those candies the ones that look great in the basket but that few actually like to eat)? Luckily, we're going to make it easy on you this year by providing several ideas on how to make the most of that filler candy--treats so tasty, you might just forget all about that bunny (unless that is, it's tricked out like this):

Easter TrifleEaster Trifle

Idea 1: Easter Leftover Trifle.We assembled an impromptu trifle, using layers of muffin-crumbs (hot cross bun crumbs or cookie crumbs would work beautifully as well, we think), cake frosting, jellybeans and robin's eggs, topping it off with a happy Peep garnish. The result was crunchy, chewy, gooey, soft, tender, and amazingly sweet--all at once. Straddling the line between candy nirvana and instant heart attack, this concoction is surely a keeper.

 

Peeps S'moresJust out of the microwave
Idea 2: Peeps S'mores. Everyone loves putting Peeps in the microwave for entertainment (right?), but why not end up with something delicious for all that time and energy? We assembled the classic s'more ingredients substituting a pink rabbit peep for marshmallow, and popped the sweet stack in the microwave for 30 seconds. Once Mr. Peep had de-flated into a gooey marshmallowey mass, we enjoyed a sweet treat indeed; the sugar coating on the peep lent a wonderfully satisfying, slightly gritty texture to the finished product. (Cakespy Note: It was only today, after completing our own Peep S'more project that we learned there's a whole book dedicated to messing with Peeps! While it saddens us that we didn't think of it first, we are so happy this book exists.)

Cereal TreatsEaster Cereal

Idea 3: DIY Sweet Cereal. Many cereals are thinly masked breakfast-candy anyway, so why not pair your Easter candy to a vaguely healthy cereal for added flavor and delight? We added some of those strange Brach's candies (shaped like chicks and bunnies, though they look sort of evil to us) to a bowl of heart-healthy Corn Flakes, and lo and behold, we instantly had something on par with Alpha-Bits with marshmallows or Lucky Charms. The colors that remained in the milk after eating were simply incredible.
Robins Egg Malted Milkshake
Idea 4: Robin's Egg Malted Milkshake. Malted milkshakes are great, duh--so why not make your own using malt-flavored Robin's Egg Candies? We grabbed a hearty handful of the pastel treats and blended it with a few ice cubes and some soy milk; the result was a nostalgia-inducing, soda-shop worthy treat. Garnished with the last Peep in our 4-pack, it was pretty cute too.

Peep wants Treats! 
Idea 5: If all else fails? Well, they say a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down--why not load up a heaping spoonful of frosting and jam it full of as many easter candies as you can? You might gross out people in your immediate vicinity, but hey--you've got to follow your own Easter bliss. Just don't forget to share with Peep!

 

Hoppy--er, Happy Easter!


 

Sunday
Mar162008

It's Not Easy Being Green: Cakespy Strives to Make Irish Soda Bread Delicious

P for PATRICK, as in the Saint!
Without a doubt, one of the best thing about holidays is the seasonal sweets that come with them: pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, chocolates for Valentine's Day, Cookies of all sorts for Christmas. And yet, for us, St. Patrick's Day has always remained a seasonal void for baked goods--though we've spied some great ideas which we hope will become the new traditions (like this or this), it still seems like the staple is Irish Soda Bread.

But why the bad blood toward the humble bread? Thinking that perhaps understanding would garner appreciation, we researched its history a bit. What we learned was a bit of surprise--not an ancient bread by any means, Irish Soda bread only dates back to the 1840's or so, when Bicarbonate of soda (the bread's yeast-alternative leavening agent) was first introduced to the country, and gained popularity not because of its deliciousness per se, but because it was quick, easy and cheap to make. Traditionally it was not a sweet bread, instead made in a griddle with the most basic of ingredients--flour, buttermilk, salt and baking soda (no sugar!). The resulting bread was dense and highly perishable, with a bit of a sour tang (read more about it here!). It is thought that the ingredients which became popular later on--sugar, raisins, carraway seeds--were added to enhance flavor and shelf life. (Also, for some trivia, it appears that while some say the typical slash atop Soda bread rounds is a cross, to ward off the devil; others say the reason for this is much more practical--simply a scoring to make it easier to divide into fourths after baking).

But moreover, it seems to us that while Irish Soda Bread is a tradition, it seems that deliciousness was never at its core. After all, additions had been made to improve the flavor over time...so why not take it a few steps further? We resolved to channel our Irish Heritage and get baking. We found a goodlookin' recipe here (sans raisins, but as you'll see below this was not a problem for us), and put together the ingredients and tried out several variations, segregating each trial in a different panel in our favorite scone pan. Here's what we tried and how it all tasted:

DoughClassic Irish Soda Bread
As a control, we tried at least one variation true to the original recipe; the resulting taste was, as expected, slightly sweet with a slight tang, tasty when just out of the oven, but largely un-exceptional after (Cakespy Note: by saying this we do not mean to talk smack about the recipe itself, but Soda Bread in general).

Green Irish Soda BreadGreen Irish Soda Bread
Our first variation was a test to see if perhaps the bread might be livened up by adding some green dye; however, while we swear some foods will taste better if they're a certain color, it was not true in the case of Irish Soda Bread. However, we would be remiss if we didn't remark on the fact that the green bread was far cuter than its classic counterpart. 

Irish Soda BreadIrish Soda Bread, Sans Raisins, and with Frosting
Next, we tried to add a little sweetness to the mix, by soaking the raisins in sugar water before baking. We'd heard that soaking dried fruit in such a manner can plump it, discouraging dehydration during baking, and indeed, while no different in appearance than the classic recipe, the slightly sweet and far more moist raisins did add a little something. However, to really seal in the flavor, we realized that adding some frosting (green, naturally) might help. It did.

Melty Mint Soda BreadJelly Belly Irish Soda Bread
While also on that sweet path, we sampled some variations on the raisins--one with our beloved melty mints and one with jellybeans--green, naturally. In both cases, the moister texture and added bit of sweetness thanks to the additions was welcome, chasing away the acidity of the salt and baking soda. And, you know, they had a higher quotient of adorableness than the classic bread.

Extreme Irish Soda BreadExtreme Frosted Irish Soda Bread
At this point, we felt like we had something--but it still wasn't completely realized yet. So for our final attempt, we combined all the best aspects of the above experiments into one mighty, some might say extreme Irish soda bread--green food coloring, melty mints, green jelly bellies, and of course green frosting. The result? Well, let's just say this one made us very happy to be Irish.

So, to close? Well, traditions are clearly important--these rituals are part of our society and history. But sometimes, there can be a fine line between maintaining tradition and being scared to try something new. So don't be scared to challenge those old-school traditions--you might just discover a new classic. 
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

 

Sunday
Feb102008

Red-Hot: Have a Red Velvet Valentine's Day, With Love from Cakespy

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes at Saint Cupcake

Valentine’s day, that polarizing bitch of a holiday, is just around the corner--a holiday loved or hated depending on romantic status. Well, this year we're raging against the red velvet chocolate box in favor of Red Velvet Cake! No problem if you're unattached-- just more cake for you. Really, no matter where you are in life and/or love, you're bound to have a sweet Valentine's Day with these red-hot Red Velvet suggestions:

Here: For if you, like the Cakespy headquarters, are in Seattle...

 

Seattle loves Red Velvet! If you're in the Emerald City, don’t miss some of our favorite Red Velvet cupcakes around, at Café Sweet Posie in Ballard—or try a slice at the Kingfish Cafe in Capitol Hill. South of Seattle? No problem--hello, cupcake in Tacoma's got you covered with sweet and adorable Red Velvet cupcakes with a southern (well, south of Seattle, anyway) flair!


There: Not in Seattle? Perhaps you can find Red Velvet Nirvana at one of these spots in your town:

If you’re in NYC, be sure to stop by Sugar Sweet Sunshine on Manhattan's Lower East Side for some of their Sexy Red Velvet Cake (photo left) which certainly lives up to its name! There’s also a damn fine one at Cake Man Raven, not to mention Cheeks Bakery--the latter two both in Brooklyn.

In Portland, we hear that Saint Cupcake makes a mean Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake, and their dairy ones are no slouch either (photo top)!

Or perhaps you’re in Chicago? Trust the expert opinion of Natalie from Bake + Destroy!, who suggests hitting up Molly's Cupcakes not only for their awesome Red Velvet cupcakes but for their cute decor too.

Or if you’re in San Francisco, check out Cake Gumshoe Bridget’s favorite: red velvet cupcakes from That Takes the Cake.

In central New Jersey, they really know how to make Red Velvet layer cakes right at The Baker Boys in Ocean Grove (photo left).

Even in Britain, you can still get your stateside fix: Outsider Tart, opened by American expats, happily serves up delicious Red Velvet in London.

Everywhere: Online and accessible no matter where you are:

 

 


Not into Red? Think Pink with the Pink Velvet Cake from Zabar’s (photo left), which can be shipped anywhere in the US (2-day shipping required). As an added bonus, part of the sale price goes toward Breast Cancer Research--and we can all feel good about contributing to that cause! Available at zabar.com.
On a diet? Shame on you. Nonetheless, we have a sweet and calorie-free suggestion: get crafty with Red Velvet Soap dyes from the lovely and amazing Brambleberry


Can’t bother with pre-orders or leaving the house? Well, we've got the thing for you, too: a recipe for Red Velvet Black and White Cookies, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Every Day With Rachael Ray:
Red Velvet Black & White Cookies

 

Makes 10 large cookies
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cut buttermilk
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
Directions:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350oF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
2. Using a mixer, beat 5 tablespoons butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, 3 minutes.

3. Beat in the egg, food coloring and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk until smooth.
4. Place ¼-cup scoops of batter 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet; spread out. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
5. In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon corn syrup and 2 tablespoons hot water until smooth. In another bowl, combine the chocolate, remaining 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon corn syrup; microwave until melted, about 1 minute.
6. Coat the cookies with the vanilla, then the chocolate icing. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
Happy Valentine's Day! Xoxoxo, Cakespy

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec062007

What a Fruitcake: The Story of a Holiday Icon

 

Fruitcake 2

Fruitcakes are kind of like Yoda: tiny, full of substance, and totally heavy.

 

However, unlike Yoda, the poor fruitcake is a much lauded rather than beloved icon of pop culture. But why? After all, it has the ingredients for greatness: sugar, fruit, sugar, nuts, sugar. So what gives? Lucky for you, we've taken the time to not only find out more about this holiday treat, but to taste it and give our educated opinion as well.

As it turns out, fruitcakes have a rather-er, rich history, the earliest ones dating back to Roman times, when a dense mixture of nuts, barley mash and various preserved fruits served as long-term sustenance that did not spoil quickly--perfect for crusaders and hunters out on long voyages. When the dried fruits of the Mediterranean traveled to other parts of Europe, the cake evolved into a tradition during nut harvests: each year, a fruitcake would be made with
the nuts of the harvest, which would be then saved and eaten the following year, to kick of the next harvest. Unfortunately the popularity dwindled a bit when fruitcakes were deemed "sinfully rich" by the government in the early 18th century in Europe, and they were relegated to a special-occasion only cake (this is how it became associated with holidays); luckily, these laws became a little more lax later on in the century, and it became a staple of high tea in England.

While it's pretty clear that the fruitcake is rich in tradition, we did not fail to notice that there weren't many stories of it being beloved for its actual taste. In fact there is even evidence to the contrary: Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste. (Source: What's Cooking America). Hmm, or perhaps it just wasn't yummy?

Although we didn't trace a single incident that brought the cake to America (although we think that it probably had something to do with how well it traveled), we were able to cement the moment it secured its place in culture: in 1913, fruitcake became available for mail order in the USA. And really, it's the ideal type of cake to send: it keeps well, is impervious to most jostling, and stays fresh. In fact, the only drawback would be its weight. The most famous joke about fruitcakes is attributed to Johnny Carson, who joked that there was really only one fruitcake in the world, which was passed from family to family. Although clearly fruitcakes were a lauded item before this point, this seems to be the moment that cemented its status as a ridiculed dessert. 

But really, is that all? The Cakespy crew felt unsatisfied; had we really discovered the secret of the fruitcake? Not yet. So to complete our mission, we invested in one ($12) by Trappist Abbey, a monastery that has been making fruitcakes in Oregon (hey, they say fact is stranger than fiction) for years. The tiny box (approx. The size of a large grapefuit) weighed a pound, and listed its contents as containing 16 servings; this was an incredibly dense little morsel.

As for the taste? Not bad. Head Spy Jessie had never actually tried fruitcake before (!) and so found it to be dense, but pleasing. Mr. Cakespy Danny found it to be amongst the better fruitcakes he'd tried. Both plates were cleaned.

But then something funny happened. No, the cake hadn't been bad. But unlike when there might be say, a chocolate layer cake in the house, there were no idle nibblings at the fruitcake. In fact, even when the house was devoid of all other sugary snacks, the fruitcake sat alone, uneaten.  Even a full week later, not another crumb has been touched; and somehow, we feel that it won't be.

So then...what is it about the fruitcake? Is it too dense? Is it the fact that it is just too sweet...while at the same time as tasting vaguely healthy? Or is it just that in modern times, crusades aside, gingerbread men and yule logs are just too good to pass up in lieu of this traditional, overlooked little fruit-studded gem of history?

We may have to wait longer to find out the secret of the fruitcake; luckily, we think they'll last through it.

Interested in the Trappist Abbey Fruitcake? Check them out online at trappistabbey.org.

This post would not have been possible without the reference of What's Cooking America, Wikipedia, and Hungry Monster.


Bonus: Fruitcake Trivia!

In the early 18th century, fruitcake (called plum cakes) was outlawed entirely throughout Continental Europe. These cakes were considered as "sinfully rich." By the end of the 18th century there were laws restricting the use of plum cake. Source: What's Cooking America.

It was the custom in England for unmarried wedding guests to put a slice of cake, traditionally a dark fruitcake, under their pillow at night so they will dream of the person they will marry. Source: What's Cooking America.

Some well-known American bakers of fruitcake include the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, and the Claxton Bakery in Claxton, Georgia. Both Collin Street and Claxton are southern companies with access to cheap nuts, for which the expression "nutty as a fruitcake" was derived in 1935. Commercial fruitcakes are often sold from catalogs by charities as a fundraiser. Source: Wikipedia.

Tuesday
Dec042007

House of Sweetness: Modern Gingerbread Houses at Red Envelope

At Cakespy, we’re suckers for sweet things designed to look like other things. Chocolate confections designed to look like tree stumps? Gummi cheeseburgers? Ice cream cone truffles? We’re sold.

And now that it’s December, we’ve officially entered the season of the ultimate shape shifting dessert: the Gingerbread House. Of course, gingerbread houses are inherently cute, what with their gumdrops and snowy frosting details; however, we recently spied one that put us over the edge: the Modern Gingerbread House available on Red Envelope. Designed in a retro-futuristic style, it's the epitome of cuteness with a slanted roof, built-in garage and mini rock garden. And if all this hasn't charmed you, certainly the customizable entryway will; who could resist having a family name or a personalized message written out in sweet frosting? The house ($88 customized, $78 un-customized) is delivered fully assembled; while it is listed as edible, we don’t think it bodes well for the taste when they say it will last up to a year (although they do specify that it should be consumed within 30 days of unwrapping). But then again, when was the last time you heard someone say “wow, that gingerbread house was really delicious?”.

But we digress; delicious or not, we think the holidays just got sweeter.

Available online at red envelope

Monday
Nov262007

Cakespy's Holiday Gift Guide Part 2: The Edible Edition

Twelve days of Christmas? Why not round it out to a Baker's Dozen? Keep things sweet (literally) with Cakespy's Edible Holiday Gift Guide, featuring thirteen exceptionally delicious--and ship-able-- gift ideas for dessert lovers. The list goes in ascending price range, from the mere morsel to the upper crust. This is the second of two gift guides; for the non-edible gift guide, click here!

Cakespy Note: We have in most cases not listed shipping fees here, which can be substantial; after all, these are perishable items, and for the most part preservative-free. Consider the care and speed with which the pastries must be packed to guarantee freshness; with this in mind, shut up and hand over that credit card.

On the first day, make them dream of a white Christmas with Shoebox Oven's White Chocolate Crunch: white chocolate topped with lightly toasted almonds and sea salt, which pairs equally well with wine or fruit, or just on its own. $11.95 for 11 oz.; available online at shoeboxoven.com.

Cupcakes? Truffles? Cupcake truffles? Give 'em all of the above on the second day, with the adorable Cupcake Truffles by Moonstruck Chocolate. The box includes four cupcake-shaped truffles: German Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Sour Cream Fudge and Strawberry Cheesecake. $12 ea.; available online at moonstruckchocolate.com.

On the third day, it's hip to be square when they're Clairesquares. Derived from classic Irish recipes, these little squares start out with a shortbread crust topped with a thick layer of rich caramel and top it off with a smooth coating of Belgian chocolate. Need we say more? $12.99 for a 5-pack; available online at clairesquares.com.

On the fourth day, give them an A-list moment with Cupcake Mix from Sprinkles, bakers to the rich and famous in LA. They surprised us with how good they tasted; plus, it travels better than trying to ship cupcakes. But the real bonus is the cute little confectioners' "dots" that are known as Sprinkles' signature. $14 ea.; available online at williams-sonoma.com.

On the fifth day, keep those pinkies out with Moelleux by Chicago's Vanille Patisserie, which pair perfectly with coffee or cognac, and come in chocolate-orange, pistachio-cherry, almond-apricot...or, we suggest getting the sampler which mixes an assortment of all three. $17 for a 15-pc. box; available online at vanillepatisserie.com.

On the sixth day, stick it to them with Petrossian's Hot Chocolate on a Stick, with which they'll stir skewered cubes of the finest Belgian chocolate into a cup of milk or cream for a toe-curlingly good hot chocolate experience. $18 for a gift box of 6 cubes; available online at petrossian.com. (Illustration by Cakespy)

On the seventh day, butter them up with Sugar Cookies from Granatus, a company that specializes in sugar cookies made in the traditional Armenian style (it reminds us of Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes): powdery, buttery and an overall delight, available in holiday flavors like Eggnog or Gingerbread, or ethnic flavors like the classic Armenian or Indian (the latter contains cardamom, cinnamon and rosewater). $20 per tin; available online at granatus.com.
Nothing says love like carbohydrates; on the eighth day, say it with the Coffee Cake in a Tin from New York's famous gourmet food store Zabar's, which is dense and full of butter, sour cream, cinnamon and walnuts. They say the cake is so rich and delicious it makes cheating on your diet worthwhile; we say "what diet"? Don't bypass the black and white cookies or the famous babka either. $21.98 ea.; available online at zabars.com.

On the ninth day, make them work for it with a Cookie Tree Kit by Little Laura's Sweets. The kit comes with everything you'll need to make a delicious centerpiece: iced vanilla bean star cookies, gumdrops, a tree topper and icing mix, all of which will form a 14" tree. $22.50 ea.; available online at littlelaurasweets.com.

Keep things cosmopolitan on the tenth day with Lemon Pannetone by Albertengo's. Where traditional panettones are usually studded with raisins and candied citrus, this one is made with candied Sorrento lemons, which give it a wonderful smell and taste. Buttery, soft and lemony, this one won't last long; ideal with espresso. $22.50 ea.; available online at chefshop.com.

On the eleventh day, give them Cookies from Eleni's, which blur the line between cookie and fashion. You could go for classic Christmas or Hanukkah styles, but we favor the full-of-personality "Best in Show" fancy poodles, NYC motifs or jungle animals. $45.50 for 9 cookies; available online at elenis.com.
On the twelfth day, defy Oprah and buy your cupcakes somewhere else: we suggest Teacake Bakeshop's "Winter Wonderland" Cupcakes (three each of Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate sour cream cake with chocolate buttercream, and ginger cake with cream cheese frosting). It will run you about $70 after shipping costs, but then again you're defying logic and gravity by shipping cupcakes; we guess that warrants a higher cost. 9 cupcakes for $45 (before shipping); available online at teacakebakeshop.com.

And as a holiday bonus to round out the Baker's Dozen? Give them the lasting gift of dessert with Vegan Honey's Vegan Dessert of the Month Club. They'll get a vegan care package each month for three months, brimming with 4-6 servings each of goodies like "Fauxstess" Twinkies or cupcakes, cookies and assorted pastries as seen on their website. The purchaser will receive a jpeg "certificate" which they can send on to the happy recipient. And as we have previously reported, whether you're vegan or not, Vegan Honey's treats are the real deal. $50 for three months of bliss (includes shipping fees); available online at veganhoney.etsy.com.

Saturday
Nov242007

Cakespy's Holiday Gift Guide (Non-edible)

Twelve days of Christmas? Why not round it out to a Baker's Dozen? Keep things festive with Cakespy's Holiday Gift Guide, featuring thirteen exceptional gift ideas for dessert lovers. The list goes in ascending price range, from the inexpensive (we never say "cheap") to some seriously sweet investments. This is one of two gift guides; the second one, a guide to edible holiday gifts, will follow!

On the First Day, have your cake and eat it too with Birthday Cake Lip Balm: its batter-sweet taste is like having a birthday year-round! $6 ea.; available online at fredflare.com.

On the second day, go for pie (humble or not, your choice) with a Cutie Pie Plate by designer Jane Jenni. In addition to having a picture of pie and a clever play on words, these 9" plates are also melamine and nearly unbreakable. $7.95 ea.; available online at heliotropehome.com.

On the third day, help them get organized with Recipe Cards by Boygirlparty. No more writing recipes on index paper like a jerk; it's a whole lot funner on cards with bunny and squirrel drawings. Comes in a set of 10. $8 ea.; available online at boygirlparty.com.

On the fourth day, stay warm and sweet with a Lobi Designs Bitten Cupcake Mug, perfect for tea or coffee to accompany an afternoon treat. Since each mug is a re-purposed vintage mug, no two will be quite alike. $10 ea.; available online at lobi.etsy.com.

Five golden rings? Yawn. On the fifth day, keep things rock and roll with the Cookie Chaos Set, comprised of a guitar-shaped cookie cutter and a mini book of recipes like "Max's Kandy Cities" and "Peanut Butter Slackers,". $13.95 ea.; available online at bustboobtique.com.

On the sixth day, give the gift of baking: the Cupcake Book Baking Kit is a perfect starting point for those who just wanna have fun (making cupcakes); includes recipes, baking cups, decorating nozzles, and stencils for designing decorations. $14.95 ea.; available online at patinastores.com.

Show a friend how much you care on the seventh day with a Milk loves Cookies Tee or Hoodie. Artist Jess Fink's design portrays a cookie proclaiming "I love you!" to a carton of milk; just like your friendship, they'll always perfect together. The classic tee is $10; onesies are $15; the hoodie is $35; available online at threadless.com.

On the eighth day, reign it all in with the Candy & Cookies Belt by Bored, Inc. Sweet, Japanese Pop-art style candy and cookies happily dance on the white vinyl belt, which is available in three sizes. $20 ea.; available online at boredinc.net.

On the ninth day, give them something to hold onto with Plush Cakes by Mypapercrane: felted creatures full of personality available shaped like various extremely happy little desserts. $20 will get you a cupcake, cinnamon roll or ice cream sandwich; available online at mypapercrane.com.

Keep things sweet, but fashion-forward, on the tenth day, with the gift of a Jessie Steele Apron, brimming with retro charm in styles like "Peony Stripe", "Snowflake" or (our favorite!) the ultra-Frenchy "Pink Paris". $32 for most styles; available online at wishingfish.com.

On the eleventh day, give the gift of art with Cakespy Original Artwork. Yes, the artwork you've come to love from Cakespy.com is now for sale; what could make a sweeter gift? No prints--these are all the real thing, available framed or unframed. $35 or under; available online at jessieoleson.etsy.com.

On the twelfth day, class it up with a gorgeous MoMA Cake Plate; doilies meet high design with this eye-catching mirrored platter, which measures 4.25 inches high and 11.75 inches in diameter. $65.00 ea.; available online at momastore.org.
And to round out the Baker's Dozen, a real showstopper for the thirteenth day: the Tiffany Cupcake Charm. This charm doesn't mess around: exquisitely formed with 18k yellow gold "frosting", a white gold cupcake cup, and "sprinkles" made of round blue sapphires, round pink sapphires, round tsavorites, this one's sure to make it a happy holiday. $1400 on a 16-inch gold necklace ($1250 for the charm alone); available online at tiffany.com.

Happy Shopping!

Saturday
Oct202007

So Corny: Vegan Candy Corn by Propamanda

Don't mess with Jersey. There have been some great things that come from the Garden State: tomatoes, Bon Jovi, Pork Roll. And now to be added to that roster is Vegan Candy Corn by Garden-state based Vegan Propamanda.

Now, we're not vegan at Cakespy, but these slab-cut, extra-large candy corn pieces seemed to transcend labels of that sort and we just fell in love with them. And the results were very rewarding: they were chewy, sugary and vaguely reminiscent of vanilla tootsie rolls, but without that waxy aftertaste. Vegan Propamanda's head baker Amanda Sacco tells us the recipe is inspired by the vegan candy corn recipe by The Urban Housewife, but with some small tweaks. And we certainly trust her baking judgment: Amanda has tested vegan recipes before cookbook publication for the likes of Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, Lauren Ulm and Joanna Vaught.

But watch out: her wares sell like hotcakes (dairy free of course) from her online shop, but we're sure that if you send her a message through etsy she'd accommodate your order.

Available at asacco9642.etsy.com.

Thursday
Oct112007

Pie, Oh My: Pumpkin Pies Available at North Hill Bakery

Some say that the Christmas holidays are the most wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, those people are wrong. Sorry Santa, but this year it's all about October, especially with momentous events like the first pumpkin pies of the year debuting at the North Hill Bakery in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Our Head Spy was on hand to sample some of the very first batch of pies from their ovens (it's hard being a sleuth sometimes) and reports that the owners Tracey Peterson and Margaret Rumpeltes (both veteran Seattle bakers and cooks) certainly know what they're doing: after roasting their own pumpkins to fill a buttery, flaky crust, the pies are topped with fresh whipped cream and spice cookies that act like a mini-top crust and are the perfect complement to the smooth, creamy pie filling (which had not a bit of that jello-y finish that plagues canned-filling pies). The resulting pie is so satisfying, you'll even want to eat it for breakfast (which one of the bakers, Mary, admits to doing from time to time).

But be warned, these pies are a bit like the vibrant leaves of Autumn: in season for only a short time, they won't last forever. So enjoy the season while you can!

Cakespy Note: No one trick-pony here, North Hill Bakery also has a full array of charming treats, fall and otherwise; check out their adorable cookies and dreamy chocolate cake!

Available at the North Hill Bakery, 518 15th Ave. East (b/t E. Republican & E. Mercer Sts); for more information, visit northhillbakery.com.

North Hill Bakery in Seattle

© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.